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List of Internet phenomena

This is a list of phenomena specific to the Internet, such as popular themes and catchphrases, images, viral videos and more. Such fads and sensations grow rapidly on the Internet because its instant communication facilitates word of mouth. In the early days of the Internet, phenomena were primarily spread via email or Usenet discussion communities. Today, many of these phenomena are also spread via popular, user-based or social networking web sites, including (but not limited to) 4chan, deviantART, Newgrounds, 9GAG, Reddit, Encyclopedia Dramatica, Facebook, Fark, Flickr, Myspace, Slashdot, Something Awful, Urban Dictionary, YouTube, or YTMND. Search engines may also amplify the propagation of these phenomena.

Contents

Advertising

The Shake Weight
  • Blendtec – The blender product, claimed by its creator Tom Dickson to be the most powerful blender, is featured in a series of YouTube videos, "Will It Blend?" where numerous food and non-food items are used within the blender.[1]
  • Cooks Source infringement controversy – An advertising-supported publication's dismissive response to copyright infringement complaint causes online backlash.[2]
  • Elf Yourself (2006) and its related Scrooge Yourself (2007) are both interactive websites created by Jason Zada and Evolution Bureau for OfficeMax's holiday season advertising campaign. Elf Yourself allows visitors to upload images of themselves or their friends, see them as dancing elves,[3][4] and includes options to post the created video to other sites or save it as a personalized mini-film.[5] According to ClickZ, visiting the Elf Yourself site "has become an annual tradition that people look forward to".[6] While not selling any one specific product, the two were created to raise consumer awareness of the sponsoring firm.[7]
  • Embrace Life – A public service announcement for seatbelt advocacy made for a local area of the United Kingdom that achieved a million hits on its first two weeks on YouTube in 2010.[8][9]
  • FreeCreditReport.com – A series of TV commercials that were posted on the Internet; many spoofs of the commercials were made and posted on YouTube.[10]
  • HeadOn – A June 2006 advertisement for a homeopathic product claimed to relieve headaches. Ads featured the tagline, "HeadOn. Apply directly to the forehead", stated three times in succession, accompanied by a video of a model using the product without ever directly stating the product's purpose. The ads were successively parodied on sites such as YouTube and rapper Lil Jon even made fun of it.[11]
  • Horse ebooks – An automated Twitter account featuring amusingly garbled tweets, linked to a website selling low-quality e-books about horses. The account has become the inspiration for fan art and merchandise, as well as attempts to identify its anonymous creator.[12]
  • Little Darth Vader – An advertisement by Volkswagen featuring young Max Page dressed in a Darth Vader costume running around his house trying to use "The Force". It was released on the Internet a few days prior to Super Bowl XLV in 2011, and quickly became popular.[13]
  • LowerMyBills.comBanner ads from this mortgage company feature endless loops of cowboys, women, aliens, and office workers dancing.[14][15]
  • The Man Your Man Could Smell Like – A television commercial starring Isaiah Mustafa reciting a quick, deadpan monologue while shirtless about how "anything is possible" if men use Old Spice. It eventually led to a popular viral marketing campaign which had Mustafa responding to various Internet comments in short YouTube videos on Old Spice's YouTube channel.[16]
  • "Nope, Chuck Testa" – A local commercial made for Ojai Valley Taxidermy, owned by Chuck Testa, suggesting that the stuffed creatures were alive until Testa appearred, saying "Nope, Chuck Testa!"; the ad soon went viral.[17][18]
  • Shake Weight – Infomercial clips of the modified dumbbell went viral as a result of the product's sexually suggestive nature.[19]

Animation and comics

Neil Cicierega, creator of several Flash-based animations
Evan and Gregg Spiridellis, founders of JibJab
xkcd's "Wikipedian Protestor" comic
  • Animutations – Early Flash-based animations, pioneered by Neil Cicierega in 2001, typically featuring foreign language songs (primary Japanese, such as "Yatta"), set to random pop-culture images. The form is said to have launched the use of Flash for inexpensive animations that are now more common on the Internet.[20][21][22]
  • Axe Cop – Initially a web comic series with stories created by 5-year-old Malachai Nicolle and drawn into comic form by his 29-year-old brother Ethan; the series gained viral popularity on the Internet due to the vividness and non-sequitor nature of Malachai's imagination, and has led to physical publication and an upcoming series of animated shorts in the 2012-2013 season for the Fox Television Network.[23][24][25]
  • Badger Badger Badger – A hypnotic loop of animal calisthenics set to the chant of "badger, badger, badger", created by Jonti "Weebl" Picking.
  • "Caramelldansen" – A spoof from the Japanese visual novel opening Popotan that shows the two main characters doing a hip swing dance with their hands over their heads imitating rabbit ears, while the background song plays the sped up version of the song Caramelldansen sung by the Swedish music group Caramell. Also known as Caramelldansen Speedycake Remix or Uma uma dance in Japan, the song was parodied by artists and fans who then copy the animation and include characters from other anime performing the dance.[26][27][28]
  • Charlie the Unicorn – A three-part series of videos involving a unicorn who is repeatedly hoodwinked by two other unnamed unicorns, colored blue and pink, who take him on elaborate adventures in order to steal his belongings or cause him physical harm.[29]
  • Dancing baby – A 3D-rendered dancing baby that first appeared in 1996 by the creators of Character Studio for 3D Studio MAX, and became something of a late 1990s cultural icon in part due to its exposure on world wide commercials, editorials about Character Studio, and the popular television series Ally McBeal.[30]
  • Happy Tree Friends – A series of Flash cartoons featuring cute cartoon animals experiencing violent and gruesome accidents.[31]
  • Homestar Runner – A Flash animated Internet cartoon by Mike Chapman and Craig Zobel, created in 1996 and popularized in 2000, along with Matt Chapman. The cartoon contains many references to popular culture from the 1980s and 1990s, including video games, television, and popular music.[32]
  • Joe Cartoon – Alias of online cartoonist Joe Shields. Best known for his interactive Flash animations Frog in a Blender[33] and Gerbil in a Microwave,[34] released in 1999.[35] Two of the first Flash cartoons to receive fame on the Internet.[36]
  • Loituma Girl (also known as Leekspin) – Loop of Orihime Inoue from Bleach twirling a leek set to the music of Loituma.[37]
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is MagicHasbro's 2010 animated series to revive its toy line was discovered by members of 4chan and subsequently spawned a large adult, mostly male fanbase calling themselves "bronies" and creating numerous Internet memes and mashups based on elements from the show.[38][39]
  • Nyan Cat – A YouTube video of an animated flying cat, set to a Utau song.[40]
  • Rage comics – A large set of pre-drawn images including crudely drawn stick figures, clip art, and other art work, typically assembled through website generators, to allow anyone to assemble a comic and post to various websites and boards; the New York Times claims thousands of these are created daily.[41] Typically these are drawn in response to a real-life event that has angered the comic's creator, hence the term "rage comics", but comics assembled for any other purpose can also be made. Certain images from rage comics are known by specific titles, such as "trollface" (a widely grinning man), "forever alone" (a man crying to himself), or "rage guy" (a man shouting "FUUUUU...").
  • Salad Fingers – A Flash animation series surrounding a schizophrenic green man in a desolate world populated mostly by deformed, functionally mute people.[42]
  • This LandFlash animation produced by JibJab featuring cartoon faces of George W. Bush and John Kerry singing a parody of "This Land is Your Land" that spoofs the United States presidential election, 2004. The video became a viral hit and viewed by over 100 million, leading to the production of other JibJab hits, including Good to be in D.C. and Big Box Mart.[43]
  • Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny – A lethal battle royal between many notable real and fictitious characters from popular culture. Set to a song of the same name, written and performed by Neil Cicierega under his musician alias, "Lemon Demon."[44]
  • Weebl and Bob – A series of flash cartoons created by Jonti Picking featuring two egg-shaped characters that like pie and speak in a virtually incoherent manner.[45]
  • xkcd – A webcomic created by Randall Munroe, popularized on the Internet due to a high level of math-, science- and geek-related humor,[46] with certain jokes being reflected in real-life, such as using Wikipedia's {{citation needed}} tag on real world signs[47] or the addition of an audio preview for YouTube comments.[48]

Email

A computer mouse from 1983, with a removable mouse ball
  • Bill Gates Email Beta Test – An email chain-letter that first appeared in 1997 and was still circulating as recently as 2007. The message claims that America Online and Microsoft are conducting a beta test and for each person you forward the email to, you will receive a payment from Bill Gates of more than $200. Realistic contact information for a lawyer appears in the message.[49][50]
  • Craig Shergold – a British former cancer patient who is most famous for receiving an estimated 350 million greeting cards, earning him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1991 and 1992. Variations of the plea for greeting cards sent out on his behalf in 1989 are still being distributed through the Internet, making the plea one of the most persistent urban legends.[51]
  • Goodtimes virus – An infamous, fraudulent virus warning that first appeared in 1994. The email claimed that an email virus with the subject line "Good Times" was spreading, which would "send your CPU into a nth-complexity infinite binary loop", among other dire predictions.[52][53]
  • Lighthouse and naval vessel urban legend – Purportedly an actual transcript of an increasingly heated radio conversation between a U.S. Navy ship and a Canadian who insists the naval vessel change a collision course, ending in the punchline. This urban legend first appeared on the Internet in its commonly quoted format in 1995, although versions of the story predate it by several decades.[54] It continues to circulate; the Military Officers Association of America reported in 2011 that it is forwarded to them an average of three times a day.[55] The Navy has a page specifically devoted to pointing out that many of the ships named weren't even in service at the time.[56]
  • MAKE.MONEY.FAST – One of the first spam messages that was spread primarily through Usenet, or even earlier BBS systems, in the late 1980s or early 1990s. The original email is attributed to an individual who used the name "Dave Rhodes", who may or may not have existed.[57] The message is a classic pyramid scheme – you receive an email with a list of names and are asked to send $5 by postal mail to the person whose name is at the top of the list, add your own name to the bottom, and forward the updated list to a number of other people.[58]
  • Mouse Ball Replacement Memo – A memorandum circulated to IBM field service technicians detailing the proper procedures for replacing mouse balls, yet filled with a number of sexual innuendos. The memo actually was written by someone at IBM and distributed to technicians, but it was distributed as a corporate in-joke, and not as an actual policy or procedure. On the Internet, the memo can be traced as far back as 1989.[59]
  • Neiman Marcus Cookie recipe – An email chain-letter dating back to the early 1990s, but originating as Xeroxlore, in which a person tells a story about being ripped off for over $200 for a cookie recipe from Neiman Marcus. The email claims the person is attempting to exact revenge by passing the recipe out for free.[60][61]
  • Nigerian Scam/419 scam – A mail scam attempt popularized by the ability to send millions of emails. The scam claims the sender is a high-ranking official of Nigeria with knowledge of a large sum of money or equivalent goods that they cannot claim but must divest themselves of it; to do so, they claim to require a smaller sum of money up front to access the sum to send to the receiver. The nature of the scam has mutated to be from any number of countries, high-ranking persons, barristers, or relationships to said people.[62]

Films

  • The Blair Witch Project – The film's producers used Internet marketing to create the impression that the documentary-style horror film featured real, as opposed to fictional, events.[63]
  • Brokeback Mountain – inspired many online parody trailers.[64]
  • CloverfieldParamount Pictures used a viral marketing campaign to promote this monster movie.[65]
  • Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus – The theatrical trailer released in mid-May 2009 became a viral hit, scoring over one million hits on MTV.com and another 300,000 hits on YouTube upon launch, prompting brisk pre-orders of the DVD.[66]
  • Party Girl – First feature film shown in its entirety on the Internet (3 June 1995).[67][68]
  • Re-cut/Mashup Movie Trailers – User-made trailers for established films, using scenes, voice-overs, and music, to alter the appearance of the film's true genre or meaning or to create a new, apparently seamless, film. Examples include casting the thriller-drama The Shining into a romantic comedy, or using footage from the respective films to create Robocop vs. Terminator.[69][70]
  • RedLetterMedia/Mr. Plinkett Reviews – Independent filmmaker Mike Stoklasa's long, in-depth critical reviews of the Star Wars prequel trilogy and several other large budget films, re-enacted under his crotchety "Mr. Plinkett" persona, became highly popular through word-of-mouth on the Internet.[71]
  • Snakes on a Plane – Attracted attention a year before its planned release, and before any promotional material was released, due to the film's working title, its seemingly absurd premise, and the piquing of actor Samuel L. Jackson's interest to work on the film. Producers of the film responded to the Internet buzz by adding several scenes and dialogue imagined by the fans.[72]
  • Take This Lollipop (2011) is an interactive horror short film and Facebook app, written and directed by Jason Zada to personalize and underscore the dangers inherent in posting too much personal information about oneself on the Internet. Information gathered from a viewer's Facebook profile by the film's app, used once and then deleted, makes the film different for each viewer.[73][74][75]

Games

A variant of the "All Your Base" phenomenon
  • "All your base are belong to us" – Badly translated English from the opening cutscene of the European Sega Genesis/Mega Drive version of the 1989 arcade game Zero Wing, which has become a catchphrase, inspiring videos and other derivative works.[76]
  • Giant Enemy Crab The meme originated during the demonstration of Genji: Days of the Blade at the Sony E3 2006 press conference. The producer Bill Ritch claimed that Genji 2's epic battles were based on "famous battles which actually took place in ancient Japan." Almost immediately after this was spoken, the gameplay footage showed a boss battle against, in his own words, a "giant enemy crab." Popular memes originating from the Genji demonstration included the game features described such as "you attack its weak point for massive damage" and "real-time...weapon change," despite neither of these being at all new to video gaming, being staples of classic 1980s games such as Metroid. In IGN's E3 2006 wrap-up, they listed a number of Genji 2 quotes.[77]
  • Leeroy Jenkins – A World of Warcraft player charges into a high-level dungeon with a distinctive cry of "Leeeeeeeerooooy... Jeeenkins!", ruining the meticulous attack plans of his group and getting them all killed.[78]
  • Line Rider – A Flash game where the player draws lines that act as ramps and hills for a small rider on a sled.[79]
  • I Love Bees – An alternate reality game that was spread virally after a one second mention inside a Halo 2 advertisement. Purported to be a website about Honey Bees that was infected and damaged by a strange Artificial Intelligence, done in a disjointed, chaotic style resembling a crashing computer. At its height, over 500,000 people were checking the website every time it updated.[80]
  • I Took An Arrow in the Knee – Non-player characters in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim repeat the line: "I used to be an adventurer like you, then I took an arrow in the knee". The latter part of this phrase quickly took off as a meme in the form of "I used to X, but then I took an arrow in the knee" with numerous image macros and video parodies created, and soon became overused and considered an annoyance; it was mentioned in an episode of NCIS.[81][82][83]
  • Portal/Portal 2 – The popular video games Portal and its sequel, both written with black humor undertones, introduced several Internet memes, including the phrase "the cake is a lie",[84] the song "Still Alive",[85] and the space-obsessed "Space Core" character.[86]
  • Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon – A trivia/parlor game based around linking an actor to Kevin Bacon through a chain of co-starring actors in films, television, and other productions, with the hypothesis that no actor was more than six connections away from Bacon, similar to the theory of six degrees of separation or the Erdős number in the scholarly field of mathematics. The game was created in 1994, just at the start of the wider spread of Internet use, populated further with the creation of movie database sites like IMDB, and since has become a board game and created a new branch of science.[87][88][89]

continued on page 2

Author:katie
Published:Sep 25th 2012
Modified:Sep 25th 2012
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